Knowledge transfer and exchange: a look at the literature in relation to research and policy


Rutter, A; Hawkins, B; Parkhurst, J; (2013) Knowledge transfer and exchange: a look at the literature in relation to research and policy. Working Paper. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

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Abstract

Within the field of health policy, there have been widespread calls for the increased or improved use of evidence within policy making. This reflects an ambition to deliver better policy in terms of outcomes, resource efficiency and effectiveness, and a belief that this can be achieved through utilising the available evidence to inform and guide decision making. For those tasked with improving the uptake of a piece or body of evidence, for policy makers aiming to improve their evidence use, or for researches investigating this question, a number of conceptual questions remain on how to actually achieve this, such as:  What should count as evidence for policy making?  Who should govern (or steer) the use of research evidence for policy?  What is ‘good evidence’ for decision making?  What is the ‘good use’ of evidence from a governance perspective?  How is research knowledge typically translated into policy?  How can one ‘improve’ the use or uptake of evidence in policy making? The GRIP-Health Project is a 5 year, European Research Council supported programme of work that aims to improve the use of research evidence in health policy through undertaking research on the political aspects of health policy making and evidence use. The project has developed a number of working papers that engage with some of these topics.1 This current paper is concerned with the last two of the questions listed above, specifically reviewing key aspects of Knowledge Transfer and Exchange (KTE) related to getting research into policy and practice. While the health sector is increasingly motivated by a desire to get research evidence into policy, outside the field of health there is a much broader body of work that is specifically concerned with how evidence and knowledge are transferred, translated, or taken up by different policy actors. Various theories attempt to establish how KTE works, the contextual factors that influence the process, and how to achieve maximum impact for relevant bodies of evidence. Acronyms and terminology used in this field vary accordingly, and can include knowledge transfer, knowledge translation, knowledge management, and knowledge brokering. These various terms have been grouped together under the rubric ‘K*’ by some authors to reflect the multiple overlapping terms 2 Prior working papers in this series deal with aspects of: Stewardship of health evidence; hierarches and appropriateness of evidence; and institutional approaches to evidence uptake research. Working papers and other outputs of the programme are available at the GRIP-Health website http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/groups/griphealth/resources/index.html 3 (c.f. Shaxson et al., 2012). However, in this paper, we use the term KTE to refer to the general body of literature focused on issues of knowledge production, dissemination, uptake and use in policymaking. As the body of work on KTE is extensive, it was decided not to attempt a complete or systematic review of the literature. There are, however, several papers which attempt to synthesise the existing literature or systematically review elements of the KTE field. These reviews provide a starting point for mapping the field to help inform efforts to improve the use of research evidence in policy. The current paper therefore has two objectives. First, it summarises and synthesises a set of identified KTE review papers in order to undertake a comparison of their similarities and their differences on the main areas they cover, to provide a basic mapping of key KTE concepts. After this, it then explores some key themes that emerge from the KTE literature which are of particular relevance to the GRIP-Health programme and other researchers or stakeholders who are tasked with improving evidence uptake.

Item Type: Monograph
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Global Health and Development
Research Centre: GRIP-Health
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/3211889

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